Late one evening in the middle of April 1968, a good friend and I boarded an overnight Greyhound bus at the now defunct Provincial Bus Terminus situated on the south side of Dorchester Boulevard, between Mountain and Stanley Streets. You see, the university semester had just ended and I had signed a contract for a summer stint as a room service waiter at the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta. There was, however, just one snag: the agreement only came into effect the second week of June. There was time to kill, so to speak, and what better way to dispatch with it than a harmless, but hopefully invigorating adventure in the Big Apple.
The overnight junket to New York (which, incidentally, cost only $13.90) was surely uneventful in those pre – 9/11 days, yet my mind was replete with thoughts about noteworthy events that had just taken place in the preceding
weeks. South of the border, President Lyndon Johnson, overwhelmed by the bloody and seemingly hopeless war in Vietnam (sound familiar?), announced on March 31 to a captive American television audience that he would not seek a second term for that high office. Only days later, he was back before the cameras lamenting the brutal assassination in Tennessee of U.S. civil rights’ leader Martin Luther King. Meanwhile, on our side of the line, Pierre Elliott Trudeau (who addressed the Liberal leadership convention in Ottawa on the very evening of King’s murder) took over the command of that same party the following Saturday, April 6. Throughout the country, expectations for the 48 year old Trudeau were indeed high.